While European ornate caves fascinate the world, Palaeolithic open-air works remain largely unknown despite their exceptional character. Fifteen thousand years ago, rock shelters were carved from monumental friezes, populated by animals and humans bathed in daylight. The particularity and interest of these carved shelters still reside and especially in the context of the works. Wall art and habitat are associated with it, unlike the decorated caves more often perceived as sanctuaries.

Less than a dozen carved rock shelters have been recorded in Europe for this period. Located in Angles-sur-l'Anglin (Vienna), the Roc-aux-Sorciers, nicknamed the «Lascaux of sculpture» since its discovery, is the most impressive example. These bas-reliefs testify to the creative genius of our hunter-collector ancestors. Their great technical mastery, their deep aesthetic finesse and their rarity make them exceptional traces of a distant era.

These masterpieces have accompanied the lives of men, women and children who have regularly stayed at the foot of the sculpted walls and give us another aspect of the spiritual world of these populations, in interaction with daily life, anchored in the domestic setting.

This new website, sculpture.prehistoire.culture.fr, contributes to the valorization of current research on the sculpture of prehistory and offers to the general public four virtual visits, elaborated from 3D digitization, of the four most remarkable carved shelters discovered in France:

- the Roc-aux-Sorciers Angles-sur-l'Anglin (Vienna);

- the Calvin’s chair in Mouthiers-sur-Boëme (Charente);

- Reverdit Sergeac (Dordogne);

- Cap Blanc Marquay (Dordogne).

This multimedia publication also offers a great diversity of content: more than 100 pages on the daily life of 15,000 years ago, 500 documents: photographs with reading aids, plans, drawings, a chronology, a glossary, educational resources, etc. for the most part unpublished as portraits and archival photos of the two famous archaeologists Suzanne de Saint-Mathurin and Dorothy Garrod or that of a “sculptor of prehistoric men”, Elisabeth Daynès.

A selection of contemporary creations by artists who reinterpret Palaeolithic art such as Claire Artemyz are also online.

This 21è collection number Major archaeological sites results from an exemplary partnership with the Musée d'Archéologie nationale - Domaine national de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, represented by Catherine Schwab, curator in charge of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic collections.

In order to illustrate various aspects of the daily life of the Magdalenians, the Museum’s Information Resource Centre coordinated and strongly contributed to the site’s iconography by providing:

In order to illustrate various aspects of the daily life of the Magdalenians, the Museum’s Information Resource Centre coordinated and strongly contributed to the site’s iconography by providing:

- several hundred photographs taken from its image bases and new photographs of the Palaeolithic collections, including 251 digital files made available by the RMN-GP photographic agency,

- approximately 1,700 documents from the Saint-Mathurin archive and digitized on this occasion.

The site sculpture.prehistoire.culture.fr was developed under the scientific direction of Geneviève Pinçon (CNRS – UMR7041 Arscan), in association with young researchers: Camille Bourdier, Oscar Fuentes and Aurélie Abgrall, and specialists in prehistory. Within the Grand Sites Archéologiques collection, it contributes to the culture.fr.

This collection is published by the Ministry of Culture and Communication (Department of Research, Higher Education and Technology, Cultural Policy Coordination and Innovation Service, Secretariat-General, in collaboration with the Archaeology Sub-Directorate of the Directorate-General for Heritage).

The site will be available in English, French and Spanish.

 www.sculpture.prehistoire.culture.fr

www.culture.en/Multimedias/Grands-sites-archeologiques